The best Lebanese restaurants in London
From the specially commissioned calligraphy to the top-notch Lebanese cooking, it’s authenticity all the way at this long-established and buzzy Westbourne Grove stalwart. Fans of meze will be delighted by Al Waha’s diverse selection, which spans everything from bright, lemony foul moukala (fried broad beans) to warmly flavoured moujadara – a comforting mix of rice and lentils, topped with crisp caramelised onion. Meaty grills, endless supplies of puffed-up bread and some punchy Lebanese wines complete the offer.
Part of chain, this wildly popular Lebanese canteen/takeaway/deli is an almost frenetically bustling and bright enterprise, filled with glitzy, colourful designs by Beirut designer Rana Salam. CL’s punchy looks and casual vibes are matched by a menu that ranges from deli-style pre-mixed salads, flatbreads and wraps to tagines, grills and marinated chicken with pomegranate molasses and walnuts. To drink, don’t miss the homemade lemonades. There are branches scattered across town, from Kingston-upon-Thames to London Bridge.
Lebanese restaurants don’t come more palatial than this seductive spot just off Devonshire Square. Set up by the guy behind the Comptoir Libanais chain, Kenza signals its intentions with flickering flames, scattered rose petals, water features and mosaics, while the party vibe peaks at the weekends with live music and belly dancing. As for the food, expect home-style dishes built for sharing – we like the lavish mashawy feast crowned by a tiered platter of fresh fruit, Turkish delight and mint tea.
Just about every fast-food classic has been given the ‘gourmet’ treatment of late, and now it’s the turn of the much-abused kebab. Le Bab’s owners have taken the Lebanese blueprint, splashed on some Asian influences and given their posh offerings a modish Scandinavian look (they’re actually served ‘open’ on house-made flatbread, like mutated smørrebrød). Fillings change seasonally, with preserved and fermented ingredients adding to the Nordic vibe. Also check out Maison Bab in Covent Garden.
An Arabian Nights fantasy trip complete with banquets, belly dancers, fire eaters and even the occasional snake charmer, this old-stager works its exotic magic in a huge Marylebone basement space done out with swathes of carved wood, filigree lamps and ornate tiling. Expect generous, uncomplicated Lebanese food, from hot and cold meze, pastries and salads to mashawy grills and slow-cooked stews – all backed by scented, pillowy breads, served hot from the oven. Evenings are riotous; lunchtimes are quiet and soothing.
It's on the same road as the high-stepping River Café, but this bijou neighbourhood restaurant couldn’t be more different. Fabulously kitsch, kooky and stuffed with paraphernalia (musical instruments, fans, upturned parasols dangling from the ceiling etc), it feels like an eccentric’s front room with a kitchen in the middle blasting out heat and spicy aromas. Don’t be fooled by the French name, the food’s authentically Lebanese, straightforward and generous – although most people go for the mixed meze feast with warm pitta bread.
Following the huge success of its pokey original branch by Tooting Bec tube station, Meza’s second coming is now the go-to for Lebanese meze and grilled meats in Tooting itself. The same standards apply (welcoming service, low prices), but there’s more space – and you can book. They do very decent kebabs, but we prefer their little grazing dishes for variety and zing – from crisp-shelled falafels and stuffed vine leaves to deep-fried Lebanese pastries and garlicky grilled chicken wings.
A bright, canteen-style lunch spot specialising in Middle Eastern wraps and salad bowls, this cheery eatery is a boon for the King’s Cross crowd. The menu is strong on Lebanese staples and the idea is to ‘build as you choose’ with a little help from your server. Try one of the ‘favourite combos’ for size (chicken, fattoush salad, lentils and cumin, say) or go for a big protein bowl with a falafel pot the side. Expect long queues, low prices and friendly-under-pressure staff.
Cosy vibes, faultless service and terrific food seal the deal at this modish self-styled purveyor of ‘Beirut street food’. Lunchtimes are mega-busy as crowds pile in for its takeaway wraps; otherwise, sit at one of the long faux-rustic tables and graze from the all-day line-up of mezze and charcoal grills – with some Arabic bread, olives and torshi (pickles) on the side, plus a cup of refreshing mint tea or pomegranate juice to quench the thirst. There’s an offshoot in Soho.
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